AURORA, Colo. — Yemi Hapte had over a decade of experience running a preschool in Ethiopia. But when she came to Colorado, she had to start over.
“When you are new for the culture, for the system, it’s impossible to start a school," she said.
That’s why she was grateful to find MyVillage, a new Colorado company that helps people set up their own in-home daycares.
“We help them make sure their programs are full so they can maximize their revenue," said Elizabeth Szymanski, one of the co-founders of MyVillage. "We help decrease their expenses. We have discounts on supplies and things. We also help them track expenses so they can write off a lot of that when it comes to tax time."
The founders of MyVillage are mothers themselves and they had trouble finding affordable daycare for their own small children. One center in Boulder told Szymanski there was a two-year waiting list.
“I was supposed to get on a waiting list before I got pregnant, before I knew I was moving to Boulder, and immediately I felt horrible as a parent,” she said.
Szymanski said when she did more research, she realized many daycare centers had similar wait lists and were too expensive for parents, yet the people working in them weren’t making enough money.
“In Colorado right now, the average person working in the early childhood industry is making about $11.50 an hour, and on the flip side of that coin, right now Colorado is one of the most expensive states for childcare,” she said.
MyVillage centers, like most home daycares, are less expensive than daycare centers or private nannies. One of Hapte’s clients said cost was a big reason she chose a MyVillage center.
“Compared to Texas, (Colorado) was just so expensive,” said Samantha Levanduski, another mother. “By the time I would draw a paycheck working 40 hours a week, it would be gone — just going towards daycare."
She was thrilled to find a MyVillage center right around the corner from her own home.
“Yemi is just so patient and kind, and the fact that she had turned her whole lower level into basically a daycare — we loved it,” she said.
Hapte cares for her own 3-year-old daughter along with the other children.
Szymanksi said many of the providers are new moms, or people who’ve worked in childcare.
MyVillage takes a 10 percent cut of the revenue. The homes have to meet certain state qualifications, including having a fenced yard. The providers go through background checks and their homes are inspected. Every provider also gets a mentor, someone who is already running a home daycare.
Szymanksi says MyVillage is hoping to set up home daycare centers throughout the Front Range and beyond.
“Our vision is you move to a new city, a new state, and you pull into your new neighborhood and you see a my village sign in someone’s yard and you sigh with relief, because you know that your kids are going to be in good hands,” she said.
My Village has also announced that it will give away a year of free, high quality childcare to a deserving family, valued at more than $13,000.
The company is seeking parent stories about the struggle to find adequate childcare through a video contest that runs until August 26. Visit myvillage.com/freechildcare to nominate a Colorado family or submit your own story by uploading a one-minute video.